The feedyard business is a highly competitive industry with many moving parts. One of the key ingredients to that is being able to adjust to what the market is asking you to do. The market asks you to do something different with dollars, e.g., premiums, discounts, paying a feedyard to feed cattle longer, paying feedyard a to feed a shorter time period, etc. Because of this, you have to purchase cattle that allow for market flexibility.
One of the biggest reasons I prefer to feed Gelbvieh and Balancer® genetics is because the Continental and British cross cattle allow me more market flexibility. When you feed straight British cattle they become fat overnight. Therefore, you are at the mercy of the market to take whatever price you are offered and you lack negotiating power. On the flip side, with a pen of Gelbvieh-influenced steers you have a three to four week marketing window to sell the fat cattle while they are still making you money from a cost of gain standpoint. For instance, if you are bearish in the market you can sell them a week or two early or if you are bullish you can feed them for another week or two. They give you that versatility.
The biggest driver in the cattle industry is pounds and I believe will always be pounds. If you think about it, we sell cattle by the pound in every segment of our industry; we sell by the pound as feeders, fat cattle, hot carcass weight, and all meat sold to the retailer and eventually the consumer. The only constant is that we sell it all by the pound. Gelbvieh and Balancer sired cattle have the frame and the muscling to put that extra weight on efficiently and simply have a bigger out-weight from the feedyard than most breeds. The first thing every order buyer looks at when calves come in the salebarn ring is how much frame do they have.
Gelbvieh and Balancer sired cattle also allow you to hit a grid with good success and gain premiums. The biggest misconception of the industry is to make good money on a grid you need to have cattle that all go Choice. In my opinion, the groups of cattle that do the best on a grid don’t have any “out cattle”. Eliminate the Yield Grade 5’s and keep the 4’s under 10 percent. Eliminate Standard and keep Select under 30 percent. If there isn’t an animal in a pen that you get docked for you will make money on a grid. That should be the goal and not going extreme in any direction. Cattle that can grade over 70 percent Choice and Prime and have over 70 percent Yield grade 1’s and 2’s with no outs make money on any grid.
The final advantage to feeding Gelbvieh and Balancer sired cattle is disposition. Gelbvieh cattle are simply more docile than most other breeds. Many studies have shown that animals with calmer dispositions are more productive both on the ranch as well as in the feedyard and ultimately exhibit higher carcass value and greater tenderness. Most of the really poor closeouts come from cattle that are flighty.
At the end of the day every person that feeds cattle is in the business to make money. They look for cattle that can give them the opportunity to succeed. Gelbvieh and Balancer sired cattle give a feedyard the ability to market cattle when they want versus taking the market that week, thus they give you the ability to call your own shots. Gelbvieh and Balancer sired calves come with added frame and muscling to put on more pounds when the market is dictates just that.
The American Gelbvieh Foundation has developed the Steer Challenge and Scale and Rail Sire-Identified Carcass Contest for breeders and other Gelbvieh and Balancer® stakeholders to feed cattle. I think it is critical for every person in the seedstock business to feed cattle because it opens up your eyes to how a different segment of the business operates. I encourage everyone to participate in the future.